The brightest student in my Philadelphia high school class went on to college, grad school and then became an Oxford professor. Although we’d occasionally contact each other through the years, I was surprised when he recently called and said he’d be in town for several days.
Whenever You Happen To Be… He was here in Los Angeles for a series of lectures at UCLA, and I was happy to meet again with my classmate. We had an enjoyable lunch together talking about old times. When he was leaving, he told me that if I were ever in Oxford, I should contact him. I laughed, because just by happy coincidence, my wife and I were planning a vacation flight to London in just a few weeks. I gladly accepted his kind invitation.
A Day In Oxford When we arrived at the eight-century-old university city after a one-hour train ride from London, my old classmate greeted and guided us on a tour of the campus buildings. We walked in awe through the world’s most famous university, actually viewing for the first time sights we had only seen in history books.
We admired the classic buildings, including visits to the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera, Ashmolean Museum and the Sheldonian Theatre. We also visited various colleges, residence halls and classrooms and many other sites on the picturesque campus. The Ashmolean is an exceptional museum, one of my favorites anywhere in the world.
Our host invited us to be his guests at lunch at the University Club. We were joined at our table by other faculty members, many wearing the familiar flowing black robes that are traditional for Oxford dons (professors). In the afternoon, we continued our tour of the university campus, including sitting in with students at several lecture halls where we listened in on discussions about history, philosophy, science and other academic subjects.
The Eagle and Child At the end of the day, our host took us to dinner at one of Oxford’s typical pubs, The Eagle and Child (49 St. Giles, Oxford). Owned by and near the university’s St. Johns College, the 360-year-old public house is a favorite hangout for locals, tourists, students and faculty. The Eagle and Child has a history through the years of attracting gatherings of literary figures while they were at Oxford. The list includes authors J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings) and C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia).
For dinner, we ordered the pub’s famous ale-battered fish and chips platter, which included mushy peas . We had chocolate puddle sponge pudding for dessert, along with glasses of Nicholson’s ale. On the night we visited, there was a string quartet playing softly in a corner, while a lively quiz game brought laughter and fun for patrons. Cost per person was $25.
The Old Bank Hotel Right on Oxford’s High Street, The Old Bank Hotel (92-94 High Street, Oxford) is a stylish place to stay. We appreciated the central location and the lovely rooms. Prices start around $300 per night.
Ted Sherman has spent a lifetime traveling. With journeys to every continent, almost 100 cruises and multiple group tours, he enjoys sharing his travel experiences and knowledge with others. Follow Ted on Twitter, @travel4seniors and on his travel blog, travel4people.